Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fire - Earth - Water

After much preparation my friend Dana is off to India today. We have just said goodbye for 17 days. She is on a reconnaissance mission scouting out travel opportunities for her girls school.

I'm thinking linen and pith helmets, the sort of Meryl Streep role involving steam trains, leather trunks and romance. Dana is preparing for hot, freezing and mid-temperatures. No wonder the British packed in trunks! You need a lot of stuff!

Now it's going to be all-India, all-the-time for me until her return. I've been practicing as has she, not opening my mouth in the shower...[shades of Sex in the City movie]...that's a hard habit to break.

My all-time favourite movies are those of Deepa Mehta. If you have not seen them, then you MUST. Deepa is my hero for showing us the new India.

Fire, Earth & Water: the movies of Deepa Mehta
by Global X — last modified 2006-11-01 09:09
Filed Under:

* Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta has become the voice of a new India, but India has a difficult time accepting what she has to say. Born in Amritsar in 1950, Ms Mehta moved to Canada in 1973. An NRI (Non Resident Indian) in India and an emigrant in Canada, she says that she refuses to choose whether she is Indian or Canadian. She is Deepa Mehta, a concerned moviemaker and storyteller.

Her bicultural roots may have helped her become one of India's most controversial and taboo-breaking filmmakers. It is said that women salute her, but that men often despise her. “I am going to shoot you, madam,” one of them screamed in 1996 after the première screening of Fire, the first movie to explore lesbianism in contemporary India.

In Earth (1998), Ms. Mehta showed the religious intolerance and violence that erupted among Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The movie was better accepted by the Indian community, in large part because it was set in the past and because it investigated the effects of colonialism. Blaming the British is always a safe bet.

But Water, the final film in Ms Mehta's trilogy on the elements, sparked controversy even before filming started. The shooting was supposed to take place in the holy city of Varanasi in 2000, but violence from local political parties and Hindu extremists forced Ms Mehta to retreat. Shooting resumed only years later in Sri Lanka. Even there, the movie had to be shot under a false working title.

Told through the eyes of a six-year old widow (yes, six-year old), Water tells the story of Indian women who are labeled as worthless because their husbands have disappeared. Forced to live in a house of confinement, they often turn to prostitution to survive. Ms Mehta chose Varanasi as the location of her film because “widow houses” still exist there.
Ms Mehta's trilogy first explored the taboo of female homosexuality in Fire, then the taboo of religious extremism in Earth. Now comes Water, which attacks the taboo of social humiliation of women. Let’s hope that Ms Mehta’s movies make a difference.


  1. While I hope I'm not a 'fiend' I am indeed off to India today. I write from the President's Lounge at Newark, NJ where I'll be until departure. We flew over the school, so my last impression of Holton-Arms reminded me how grounded I am there.

    I'm delighted to be on my way.

  2. Thanks for the edit. I've fixed it my friend. You have to understand that I did this first thing after a very late night.

    Take care and happy flying.

    DOTS of love

  3. Sweetheart, I think you should have left the 'fiend'. Maybe I'll get my bags searched!

    DOTS of love...

    You can't forget what we said in Princeton when the woman opened her car door right in front of you as you passed.... 'she better watch out or she won't be an Indian for long!'

    This is going to be such a magical trip.

    The Fiend goes on a Magical Mystery Tour.